Concerned at parapets’ height

Bexhill Observer letters
Bexhill Observer letters

From: Dr Barry Snape, Mayo Lane, Bexhill

While seeking to avoid another hold up in North Bexhill due to road works, recently, I found myself in unfamiliar territory, driving across the Woodsgate Park bridge over the new Combe Haven Way, some 20 feet below. I was most shocked and concerned to see the low height of the parapets on both sides of this bridge which is, of course, on a route taken by many children walking to and from school.

I recall that Vanessa Barden wrote to the Observer about this, just over a year ago (Observer, January 8, 2016). She had previously written to her local County Councillor, but had received no reply, and was therefore appealing to the Observer to investigate.

Her admirably expressed concern was that ‘a potentially fatal incident could occur either by someone (possibly a child) going over the wall or objects being pushed over the wall into oncoming traffic’.

Two weeks later, Councillor Michael Ensor responded on behalf of East Sussex County Council. He confirmed that this question had been raised with him many times, and he advised that the ESCC Project Team had concluded that the 1,000mm height was “the national standard” for bridge parapets over roadways (a specific reference for the standard cited was not provided).

Now, my feeling was that Vanessa Barden was seeking reassurance that these parapets do not represent an uncontrolled risk to human life, rather than that they meet the minimum height requirement of an obscure and unreferenced standard. In short, I believe she wanted to know that the parapets are fit for purpose, and not merely compliant with specification.

In my view, it does not require an investigation by a “Project Team” to conclude that a one metre parapet is no effective barrier to falling bodies or projectiles.

I was once young myself, and I recall that my peers were capable of the most reckless and thoughtless acts, sometimes to impress their friends, sometimes in response to a “dare”, and sometimes merely out of the sheer exuberance and curiosity of youth.

Am I alone in finding it heart-breaking that ESCC can consider a three-mile stretch of road that nobody wanted to be worth £127 million, and yet consider the lives of the children of North Bexhill not to be worth the cost of a few metres of post and fencing and a couple of strategically placed warning signs?

If others feel as strongly about this as I do, then the perfect opportunity to make their feelings known is approaching, with the ESCC elections on Thursday, May 4, 2017. Please, please try to get to the polling stations, if you can, in order to cast your vote for the candidate you consider best fitted to fight for our interests at county level. Please do this, not for my sake or for your sake, but for the sake of our children and our children’s children.

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